Sons help Dad launch a family furniture building business

Here’s Ray running poplar face frames through his 38” Woodmaster Drum Sander. The frames are for a paint-grade cabinet job that’s in the shop now.

Here’s Ray running poplar face frames through his 38” Woodmaster Drum Sander. The frames are for a paint-grade cabinet job that’s in the shop now.

“For over a decade, I have worked full time as a designer for a high-end furniture company.  Now my two boys and I build furniture in our own business, at Harmon Heirloom Furniture.

I have designed all kinds of high end furniture and custom cabinetry including but not limited to trophy rooms, vaults, bars, executive offices, kitchens, and complete residences for high end clientele like businesses, banks, and private individuals.  In contrast, ordinary working class people like me could never afford the type of furniture I have designed.  It’s easy to see why most people buy lower quality furniture and cabinetry from Ikea and other big box stores made mostly with what I call ‘GOS’ — ‘glue and other stuff.’

Ray and family made this outstanding desk for a school music department. Maple and Black Walnut with Danish Oil Finish.

Ray and family made this outstanding desk for a school music department. Maple and Black Walnut with Danish Oil Finish.

Harmon Heirloom Furniture recently completed this handsome kitchen complete with tongue & groove Red River Birch, Wenge Trim, and granite counters.

Harmon Heirloom Furniture recently completed this handsome kitchen complete with tongue & groove Red River Birch, Wenge Trim, and granite counters.

His hobby became a family business

I realized how poorly most of the furniture I owned compared to the furniture I designed but could not afford.  As a hobby, I started collecting woodworking equipment to start making quality furniture for myself.  I quickly realized how essential a sanding machine is to furniture manufacturing. That’s why my Woodmaster Drum Sander was one of my earliest purchases.

This outstanding executive desk is a full 36” x 72”. It’s made of Black Walnut and features raised panel construction, Wenge trim detailing, and more including columns with “Coves & Flutes” and top with “Dental Edge Banding."

This outstanding executive desk is a full 36” x 72”. It’s made of Black Walnut and features raised panel construction, Wenge trim detailing, and more including columns with “Coves & Flutes” and top with “Dental Edge Banding.”

The father-and-sons Harmon team gets ready to tackle a New project. Left to right: Anthony, Ray, and Michael.

The father-and-sons Harmon team gets ready to tackle a new project. Left to right: Anthony, Ray, and Michael.

For about five years, I made several units for family, friends, church, and even some for sale, including but not limited to desks, dressers, beds, kitchens, dining tables, book shelves, dressers and hutches, and doors.  Thinking ahead, my goal became to turn my hobby into a business to help supplement my income when I retire.  I want to stay active and healthy by working in retirement but I want to work for myself.

Sons came home to work with Dad

I’d been talking to my two sons, Michael and Anthony, about my plans and they both became interested in going into business with me. One lived in Virginia and the other in Texas.  Soon they both moved back home to Arkansas and we started the business in June of 2014.  Now with my sons home I get to see my grandchildren all the time! I just can’t tell you how much that means to me and my wife.

Together, with savings and loans, we build a 1500 square foot shop, fit it with more equipment, and started making furniture. We knew most people don’t have good access to affordable quality furniture, so our goal was, and still is today, to make good quality furniture at a reasonable price.

Both my boys work full time for a local builder, and part time in our own business.  We’re continuing to get more business through contacts they have established with their employer and other local builders.  We desire to continue to grow the business to the point where all of us can eventually move into full time furniture manufacturing.

Daughters, too, get involved in Ray's family furniture business. Here's Destinee running a face frame through their Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Daughters, too, get involved in Ray’s family furniture business. Here’s Destinee running a face frame through their Woodmaster Drum Sander.

This impressive Credenza was made to match the maple and walnut desk above.

This impressive Credenza was made to match the maple and walnut desk above.

Ray’s son Anthony shows off the company’s unique two-person desk; their original design made of mahogany.

Ray’s son Anthony shows off the company’s unique two-person desk; their original design made of mahogany.

Since the beginning of our business we have made several desks, kitchens, vanities, tables, main entrance doors, and much more. We’ve even made a 6’ x 6’ wall hanging — a huge Scrabble board — for a retirement home in Oregon.  And we built three huge conference tables for a customer in Florida. The biggest was 5’ x 14’ made of 8/4 walnut.  My heart is in making the beautiful artistic solid wood furniture units, but we make our share of economy grade furniture as well.

SAVE BIG NOW on Woodmaster Drum Sanderssale prices, online specials

SAVE BIG NOW on Woodmaster Molder/Planerssale prices, online special

Ray’s son Michael running some stock down through the 38" Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Ray’s son Michael running some stock down through the 38″ Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Small town advantage

One of the advantages working in a small town is I’m often taking field measurements on a house right after framing.  I’m able to provide the contractor and/or homeowner a concept drawing along with the proposal, which is often used in utility planning and framing modifications.  No other manufacture in our area offers that level of service, and with my background in design, I can make a project look good while still being economical.  This results in a high percentage of jobs we quote being awarded to us.

My Woodmaster Drum Sander is the 3875 — 38” single drum. It’s a sweet machine and I love it. But sometimes I wish I’d gotten the bigger model, especially when I’m running assemblies larger than 36 inches wide.  I’ve been looking into the Woodmaster  50” Double Drum Sander, where one or both drums can be used in the same pass. I’d put 80 grit on one and 120 on the other. I hope to trade up someday.

I talked to Woodmaster owners before buying

I did a lot of research, and Woodmaster always came up as the brand to buy. Woodmaster hooked me up with some Woodmaster drum sanders owners.  They gave plenty of positive feedback and vital information, like ‘don’t chintz on the dust collection’.

I didn’t hear much positive feedback on the Grizzly® drum sanders.  Grizzly® sells a popular 37” wide belt sander but its starting price is around $10,000 not including the dust collection.  I paid around $4,000 for my Woodmaster Drum Sander including all the dust collection. You can’t do better than that.

The machine is easy to operate.  As I’ve learned the machine I’m getting better longevity out of my sand paper.  You can tell when the machine is running properly by the swishing sound it makes.  The secret is maintaining the best feed rate and sanding depth for the wood density you’re sanding. With 80 grit loaded on the drum, I generally take a quarter-turn on the handle, or .015 inch per pass, at a feed rate of 50 inches per minute.  On wider boards, higher density wood, or with 120 grit loaded on the drum, I take as little as one-eighth turn on the handle, or .007 inch per pass, but rarely do I run the feed rate less than 50 inches per minute.

I have an older Woodmaster Molder/Planer I’m thinking of rebuilding or replacing. I’ll make custom molding and trim to add to our capabilities.

For a guy like me…

This drum sander does a great job; one reason is I have a good vacuum system. When I was researching sanders, a lot of people said, ‘Go with a wide belt sander.’ But they’re so expensive, most starting around $8-10K minimum, and much higher.  My full time employer has a four-head wide belt sanding machine from Germany costing more than $150K. They need a machine like that for the sheer volume of wood they process, but for a guys like me, there’s no better sander than a Woodmaster.

— Ray Harmon, Harmon Heirloom Furniture, Heber AR        Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner

SAVE BIG NOW on Woodmaster Drum Sanderssale prices, online specials

SAVE BIG NOW on Woodmaster Molder/Planerssale prices, online special

QUESTIONS? COMMENTS?

3 WAYS we can help you!